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Selenium and Brazil Nuts and Testosterone

Can brazil nuts and selenium increase testosterone?

There seems to be a lot out in the popular press or online material that incresing selenium intake will increase a healthy man’s testosterone production (example and example II from Forbes Magazine: what were they thinking?), but little, if anything, in the scientific literature to support that idea. (I like the scientificky approach used by that website, especially the graph that shows no effect, and no indication of variability in the data points). There has also been recent emphasis on consumption of brazil nuts as a natural source of selenium that will boost testosterone and increase virility.

Can brazil nuts and selenium increase testosterone?

What do we know about selenium and Brazil nuts?

Selenium is protective against prostate cancer, and good for testicular development (fetal period . . . sorry guys) and possibly protective against other oxidative-stress-induced ailments, testicular or not. On the other hand, selenium, at high concentrations can result in DNA damage, and thus increase risk of cancer. The problem with supplementing, either through tablets, or through consumption of a natural product high in selenium, is that we do not know where the lines of good and evil cross.

As for Brazil nuts, selenium concentrations in any plant should be dependent on the concentration of selenium in the soil in which it grows, therefore, the concentration of selenium in Brazil nuts probably varies. This turns out to be the case, with nuts grown in Manaus-Belem more than ten times higher in selenium than those grown in Acre-Rondia. Someone consuming Brazil nuts may or may not be making a significant increase in selenium intake.
Chang, J. (1995). Selenium content of Brazil nuts from two geographic locations in Brazil Chemosphere, 30 (4), 801-802 DOI: 10.1016/0045-6535(94)00409-N

ATIF, F., YOUSUF, S., & AGRAWAL, S. (2008). Restraint stress-induced oxidative damage and its amelioration with selenium European Journal of Pharmacology, 600 (1-3), 59-63 DOI: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2008.09.029

Brozmanová J, Mániková D, Vlčková V, & Chovanec M (2010). Selenium: a double-edged sword for defense and offence in cancer. Archives of toxicology, 84 (12), 919-38 PMID: 20871980
Henderson, B. (2000). Hormonal carcinogenesis Carcinogenesis, 21 (3), 427-433 DOI: 10.1093/carcin/21.3.427

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